How To Wax Your Car By Hand

March 26, 2019

Waxing Car

When you buy a brand-new vehicle, you are in love with that showroom finish. You like to drive it around and show it off to the town. Your vehicle has presence and draws positive attention to you wherever you go. However, as soon as you drive it off the lot, it can lose 11 percent of its value. This is, in part, due to the imperfections and cosmetic damage that can occur just from driving it at high speeds on the expressways.

How do you wax your car by hand? You can wax your car by hand by first washing the car well to get rid of any debree, and then using a Carnuaba wax product.

You may have to look at it real close to get a good view of the micro-scratches that accumulate on your vehicle practically overnight. These micro-scratches occur because there is sand and dirt in the wind that sandblasts at the finish when you are driving at high speeds. For this reason, the brand-new cars are shipped to the dealership with a plastic film covering all the panels or at least the roof, hood, and trunk. 

You can get a car bra or coat your entire vehicle in an invisible layer of Paint Protective Film. However, the easiest thing to do to retain that luster and protect your paint is to regularly apply a hard-wax coating. The best hard waxes will have Carnauba wax in them, a wax that is derived from Brazilian palm trees and used to make certain types of sugar-coated candies shine. 

Here are the steps that you can take when wanting to wax your car by hand.

How to Apply Paste Wax 

Step #1: Choosing the Correct Wax 

There are a variety of waxes on the market that come in squeeze tubes or that claim that they are waxes but are actually sealants. When it comes to wax, however, Mother Nature is still king in the world of polishing. There is nothing with more glow and eye-appeal than a coat or two of Brazilian Carnauba paste. If you go to any automotive store or even the automotive section of a department store, you are sure to find some name-brand Carnauba wax products. Price may be a good gauge for determining the quality of these wax products. You may even want to ask professional detailers in your area what brand they use to obtain the top finishes. 

Step #2: Wash Your Car 

It is better to wash your car by hand because the dirt on the surface of your vehicle could get caught up in the brushes of an automatic car wash and mar the finish. The best methods of washing use the two-bucket method. This method requires you to fill up two 5-gallon buckets with warm water. One bucket will have car washing soap or even a few drops of dishwashing liquid to produce suds for the wash. The second bucket will be used to rinse any dirt off the wash mitt as it accumulates. 

If you use this method, be sure to spray off any noticeable dirt that may be caked on the vehicle with a hose before washing the surface. This will eliminate the chances of dragging dirt along the finish and scratching it. Also, be sure to rinse out the wash mitt frequently for the same reason. And once you have soaped up the whole car, you should follow up at the wheels with a special tire brush. Use the wash mitt to do one section at a time, starting at the roof, working towards the hood and finally doing the trunk. Then, you can do the doors and windows on the sides and finish with the front fascia and rear fascia. 

You shouldn’t use a powerwasher to wash your vehicle because there is no need for that kind of pressure. It will only help to erode the finish off your vehicle. Stick with a regular hose, and simply put your thumb over the opening to get a better stream when you encounter heavy build up. If you have a nozzle on your hose, you should opt for the gentlest rinse setting whenever possible. 

Step #3: Use a Clay Bar to Remove Embedded Residue (optional) 

If you want a really strong luster on a vehicle that is aging, you may want to try using a clay bar. The clay bars on the market today are not really made of clay but act in the same manner to bind with contaminants in the pores and cracks of your paint. The clay lifts out these contaminants and restores the vivid and smooth luster. 

A clay bar is used by overlapping sections and using the bar to glide across the surface with a lubricating spray. You flip the piece of clay over and rework it to ensure a clean surface every so often. Only clay in one direction and be sure to remove any large pieces of debris that might stick to it. Never reuse it if you drop it. When you are done claying the vehicle, you can do another light wash and rinse to remove any residue from the lubricant spray. 

If you have areas where the paint is noticeably swirled, you may want to try a rubbing compound followed by a polishing compound to smooth out the paint again. Of course, you have to be careful when using an orbital polisher because any spec of debris will carve swirls into your paint in a split-second. Hand-polishing it with a microfiber cloth is the slow and steady method that works the best. 

Step #4: Apply the Paste Wax 

A quality paste wax with Carnauba wax should come with a foam applicator. If not, you can always buy one separately. The foam applicator will make it easy for you to apply a thin coat of wax without having to keep dipping it back into the can. 

When it comes to timing the event, you should wax your vehicle whenever the day is not overbearingly hot or cold. Keeping your vehicle out of direct sunlight and avoiding the afternoon hours when the sun is at its strongest will go a long way towards obtaining a good polish. 

You can use a circular motion to apply the wax in sections. It usually helps to work from the top down in the same manner that you washed the vehicle. The paste should dry to an opaque or translucent coating when it is dry. 

The biggest trick with applying a paste wax is keeping it off the trim pieces and rubber. You don’t want the wax to get on these parts because it gets embedded and can be difficult to remove. It is suggested that you make an outline a few inches away from any rubber or trim pieces and carefully edge the areas of the body panels in a separate pass. 

It is easy to get all fired up and overconfident when you are working on covering a lot of area very quickly and getting it all done. You will wind up chalking up any errors of over-waxing to negligible bits that you can deal with later until you see how hard they are to clean. 

Step #5: Remove the Paste Wax 

Once the wax is dry, you should use a new microfiber cloth that was never used for any other purposes to wipe the wax clean. Although some people suggest using a circular motion, you will find that the wax will look better from afar if you wipe the wax clean in straight vertical or horizontal lines. This is a little secret that they use at car shows to produce the best finishes. 

Step #6: Buffing (optional) 

If you really want to bring out the shine, you can buff the wax to a higher polish. This involves using a microfiber cloth cover for an orbital polishing tool. You may be able to find such a tool for under $50 in any automotive supply store.

Washing Your Car After Hard Waxing it 

After you apply a hard-wax coating, be sure to avoid carwashes. You should also refrain from washing the vehicle by hand with dish soap. It is better to wash it using a small chip from a mild beauty bar to create a solution of soapy water that won’t strip away all the wax. You can do this to clean up the vehicle between wax applications. Once your finish starts looking a little dull, you can add another layer of hard wax and start anew. It?s also important to wash your car at least once every 2 weeks, but this can also vary based on different enviromental factors.

Benefits of Hard-Waxing Your Vehicle 

A good hard wax coating will protect your vehicle from acid rain, tree sap, and bird droppings that can all do damage to paint. If you park it out of direct sunlight and preferably in a garage or under a covering, this will further extend the life of your paint job. 

The hard wax will also cause the water to bead and stop it from penetrating into the paint and causing rust. This is the chief cause of oxidation and paint damage in vehicles that spend most of their life near ocean cities with salty atmospheres. 

In fact, the easiest way to tell if your vehicle requires a fresh coating of hard wax is to spray water on it and see if it beads up. You can also compare it after a fresh rain to the days after you waxed it. Considering all these benefits, it makes sense to apply Carnauba wax for basic protection of your investment.

Share this post with your friends

About The Author



I've been detailing cars for years. I love cars but more importantly, I love clean cars. I created this blog to share all of my knowledge around keeping cars as clean as possible.